LA Rams rookie LB Clay Johnston top-shelf player for Coach Barry

(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /
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LA Rams Clay Johnston
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

LA Rams rookie LB Johnston is a top-shelf quality player

There is a saying about not critiquing fortunate circumstances, more commonly known as “Don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth”. Perhaps that saying is appropriate for the LA Rams good fortune of landing a player who-by-all-counts projected by many scouts as round four or five draftable linebacker out of a very successful Baylor football program.

Baylor standout linebacker Clay Johnston was projected much higher in the draft until a knee injury placed the dreaded medical flag on his portfolio, in a year when NFL teams had no course of invalidating medical concerns. He fit all of the right “parameters” to excite NFL scouts and coaches. In 39 career games, he amassed 237 tackles, 26.5 tackles for a loss (TFL), two interceptions, seven passes defended, and 4.5 sacks. But all of that production was negated by questions over his knee.

Fortuitous fall of the Baylor Bear

So he fell, and he fell some more. Ultimately, by round seven the prideful young man resigned himself to the likelihood that he would not hear his name called in the 2020 NFL Draft. Until he DID hear it in the seventh round, called out on behalf of the Los Angeles Rams, to join a linebacking corps with needs all over the field, and the emotions he felt at that moment were infectious and legendary.

They were emotions felt by any and all LA Rams fan at that moment. Emotions so intense and pure that they literally moved head coach Sean McVay to talk about it after the draft. In some ways, perhaps Fate directed the plunge of an all-football type of player to the linebacking room of one of the best linebacking coaches in the NFL, LA Rams linebacking coach Joe Barry.